Once again, the Obama Administration has announced what is being called a delay in the Employer Mandate provision of Obamacare, this time until conveniently after the 2014 elections. The Treasury Department has said that businesses with fewer than 100 workers now join those with fewer than 50 in getting a form of relief till 2015.
But what relief? These alterations in the deadlines are not, in fact, alterations in the deadlines or any kind of actual change in the rules. These are simply announcements from the Executive Branch that they will not require employers to prove that they're in compliance with the law. That's all. These delays are not exemptions from the rules, or alterations in the rules, but just promises by the nation's chief law enforcement officer that he will ignore lawbreaking during this period of time, in violation of his constitutional obligation to "see that the laws be faithfully executed." And, of course, these delays do nothing to settle the serious questions that will arise in the future about the validity of contracts that arise under the law. There will be such cases: disputes will arise about whether certain contracts were in compliance with the law on day X, and courts will be required to say that those contracts were in violation of the law notwithstanding these alleged extensions.
Whatever you think about Obamacare--if you were for it or against it or whatever--you cannot ignore the enormous damage that is being done to the rule of law by the piecemeal tinkering and manipulation that is being done day after day, time after time. Who knows what the law will be tomorrow? Who can count on what the law will be next week? Or next month? Why bother complying with the law as it is today? Why bother worrying about what it will be next time, since we can just get it changed instead of obeying it? As Christina and I argue in the current issue of Regulation, Obamacare is a sustained assault on the principle of the rule of law and a threatening precedent for the future of our constitutional system.